Staycation Destinations for You and Your Kids

Dinosaur at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. (Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia – IMG 7414.JPG by Daderot licensed under public domain)

For kids, summer means three months of freedom from school and homework, and three months of freedom to run around in the sun or probably just stare fixedly into the glare of their many screens.

For the parents or grandparents tasked with entertaining these kids, summer might look more like the freedom to Google how to keep children busy for days on end. But fear not. Check out the Jewish Exponent’s list of just some of the staycation possibilities the Philadelphia area offers — all just a short drive away (and some of them are free).

Philadelphia Zoo

Nothing quite says a classic summer day like a trip to the zoo. The zoo offers a large variety of programs and activities for kids of all ages, as they learn about the more than 1,300 animals that live there. During your visit, check out KidZooU, a new children’s zoo and wildlife academy that offers chances to groom animals, learn about conservation and much more.

If You Go:

3400 W. Girard Ave. | 215-243-1100 | (Members and children under 2 are free. Children ages 2 to 11 are $19.95. Adults and children ages 12 and up are $24.95.)

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Starting Memorial Day Weekend, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest will be open seven days a week. There, you can go roller skating, try some mini-golf, go on rides and play fair games. Younger children will certainly enjoy Storytime in the Lodge, which is coming back after its successful winter run.

If You Go:

101 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. | 215-925-RINK | (Skating admission is $3. Skating rental is $10. Free skating admission for Blue Cross cardholders and employees and all first responders and military personnel.)

The Franklin Institute

You know The Franklin Institute classics like the Giant Heart and the observatory. This summer, the museum will also feature a new, special exhibit, Game Masters: The Exhibition, where you and the little ones can take an interactive journey through the world of video games and 30 innovative game designers.

If You Go:

222 N. 20th St. | 215-448-1200 | (Adults and children ages 12 and up are $23. Children ages 3 to 11 are $19. Children under 3 are free.)

Sister Cities Park

Sister Cities Park’s picturesque patch of green in the heart of Center City is nice for everyone, but it’s especially nice for kids. Children will love splashing in the park’s fountains, with its 10 geyser-like spouts. Be sure to also check out the Children’s Discovery Garden, which includes a boat pond, a book cart and an Imagination Playground.

If You Go:

210 N. 18th St. | 215-440-5500 | (Free.)

Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum offers endless opportunities for kids to learn, even during the summer months when school seems like a long-forgotten dream. Here, their imaginations can run wild as they direct a hospital, stroll through City Park or take a spin on a carousel. Until Sept. 3, the museum also has a special exhibit, Hello From Japan, where kids can create a Japanese streetscape, explore a Shinto shrine and play cashier at a bento restaurant.

If You Go:

4231 Avenue of the Republic | 215-581-3181 | (Adults and children 1 and older are $19. Members and children under 1 are free.)

Sesame Place

This one is sure to be a hit for the youngest of the young ’uns. Sesame Place, which features roller coasters, shows and parades, and opportunities to eat with Sesame Street characters, is essentially the Sesame Street Disney World. There are two special concerts this summer, from Choo Choo Soul and the Kidz Bop kids, and fireworks shows for the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

If You Go:

100 Sesame Road, Langhorne | 215-702-3566 | (One-day and two-day tickets and season passes range from $45 to $238.)

Ringing Rocks Park

Bring a hammer and rock out at Ringing Rocks Park. For either the child who likes music or the child who likes rocks, Ringing Rocks Park offers plenty of fun. Striking these rocks with a hammer makes them ring like bells, and you and the kids can enjoy your very own family band. There’s no point in pocketing one of these rocks as a souvenir from this day, though, as the rocks lose their musical capacity when away from the others.

If You Go:

Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy | 215-757-0571 | (Free.)

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

You can see dinosaur skeletons, a butterfly garden or even scientists live at work at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. New to the academy is Xtreme Bugs, where 20 giant animatronic bugs, from a monarch butterfly to a Madagascar hissing cockroach, tell their stories.

If You Go:

1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. | 215-299-1000 | (Adults and children ages 13 and up are $19.95 or $17.95 online. Children ages 3 to 12 are $15.95 or $13.95 online. Seniors age 65 and up are $16.95 or $14.95 online. Military and students with ID are $16.95 or $14.95 online. Children under 3, members and Drexel DragonCard Holders are free.)

Once Upon a Nation

Watch history come to life with Once Upon a Nation storytelling and reenactments. At 13 marked benches around Independence National Historical Park, the kids can hear short stories that will transport them back in time. You can also check out Living History — at the Betsy Ross House, Free Quaker Meeting House, Independence Visitor Center and Carpenters’ Hall — where you can experience first-hand accounts of what life was like in colonial times.

If You Go:

600 Chestnut St. | 877-462-1776 | (Free.)

Adventure Aquarium

Dazzle the kids with the diversity of life living in our seas. Adventure Aquarium offers opportunities for interactive learning, such as the touch pool with creatures from the Pacific Northwest, the Touch a Shark exhibit or a multi-sensory Amazon journey.

If You Go:

1 Riverside Drive, Camden, N.J. | 844-474-FISH | (Children ages 2 to 12 are $21.99. Adults and children ages 13 and up are $29.99.); 215-832-0729


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